Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking Your Soul to Work Pt.1

R. Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung, Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the WorkPlace. Eerdmans, 2010.

Taking Your Soul to Work is divided into three parts. The first part discusses the sins of the workplace. The fruit of the Spirit is analyzed in part two. The last part discusses "workplace spirituality."

Stevens and Ung describes the nine sins in the workplace that undermine the growth of the soul. Seven of these are known as the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust. The authors add two additional sins to this list: boredom and restlessness. These nine sins are discussed in chapters one through nine.

Stevens and Ung asserts, "pride permeates the modern workplace" (17). The authors note that the opposite of pride is humility. Greed is the next sin described. The Bible says "greed or avarice is generated when our desire for God is channeled instead toward the things that God has made" (22). The Bible has much to say about being contented with what we have. A third sin is lust. One can see how if this sin is not controlled can lead to ruin. The way to overcome this sin is to love God and to love others with a godly love. The sin of gluttony"lies in finding satisfaction through excessive consumption" (33). This sin shows the importance of self-control. Anger is a sin that many struggle with. The authors note that of all our emotions, "anger is the most explosive" and leads to many of the other deadly sins. The authors believe we need to overcome anger by "surrendering to God the desire to control" (42). Sloth is a sin that many people misunderstand. This sin is usually associated with laziness, but it means much more. The authors assert that busy people can be slothful. Derek Kidner says in his commentary on Proverbs, "the slothful will not begin things, will not finish things, and will not face up to things" (45). The slothful persons seems to be caught in despair and of course, belife is the opposite of despair.
The last three sins discussed are envy, restlessness, and boredom. Do not envy is part of the ten commandments. People are often tempted to have what others have. The way to overcome envy is to cultivate a thankful spirit. The authors think that a modern sin that is prominent in the workplace is restlessness. It is the desire to run away from difficult situations. This sin is noted by Wendell Berry in his writings. We will miss out on character development when we flee difficult situations. The authors notes that "acedia is deadly because it causes us to despise our present circumstances, our work, and even life itself" (57). This idea is similar to the idea that the grass is greener on the other side. The last sin discussed is boredom. This sin seems to be a modern sin. The author thinks that boredom "results from too little or too much stimulation" (64). I hear this word often from my kids. The answer to boredom is leisure and the practice of the Sabbath. The authors believe that boredom is a sign that something is wrong in our soul.

These are the nine deadly sins of the workplace. We need to exercise discipline in our life to overcome them. By doing these things, we will allow God to shape our soul in the workplace. In the next part we will look at the fruit of the Spirit.

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